An Investigation into the Implementation of National Curriculum Design and Technology in a State Secondary School

Harrison, Michael Ernest (1994). An Investigation into the Implementation of National Curriculum Design and Technology in a State Secondary School. PhD thesis The Open University.



The thesis deals with the process of curriculum change initiated by the British government's decision to include a national curriculum requirement in its Education Reform Act of 1988. The particular focus is on the development of the subject of Design and Technology, which was the only new subject in the national curriculum, and which, in the secondary phase, was required to be taught cooperatively by teachers of several existing subjects. The thesis demonstrates the need to combine two approaches to curriculum change in order to understand the process. The first is that typified by the work of Goodson, who maintains that subjects develop through the activities of disparate interest groups. The second is that typified by the work of Fullan, who maintains that change will only be successful if those involved are enabled to construct their own meaning for the change. Combining these two approaches at school level (which is a development of the approach of Goodson, who deals mostly at national level), demonstrates the complexity of the change process, and the need for a change strategy that handles this complexity.

In summary, the thesis is that the existence of many interest groups in the new area of design and technology in the national curriculum makes the processes of specifying the subject at national level, and implementing it at school level, difficult and controversial. For the processes of curriculum change to take place effectively, a strategy for change is required that recognizes the conditions within which teachers work, and the structures of organization and meaning that support their work. In the case of subject teachers in secondary schools, this means recognizing the influence of subject and departmental interest groups, as well as the influence of school organizational structures. Failure to apply such a strategy inhibits the change process and may result in outcomes that are less satisfactory then is desired.

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